The Year 2020—what a disaster, am I right? Maybe. We certainly are living in “unprecedented times,” at least according to the wisdom of social media users, journalists, bloggers, and politicians. The truth is many disasters and difficulties have faced us (the entire human race) in 2020. Life has changed radically for many of us, and life may never be the same for most of us. All this change, all the emergencies of this year have led to heightened stress levels and unprecedented rates of depression and anxiety.
However, there are several simple actions you can take to make navigating 2020 (and 2021 too) easier. One of my favorite ways to ground and center myself is by looking for beauty. Here are five easy ways that you can enjoy beauty:
1. Go on a mindfulness walk. Spending time outdoors is essential to human well-being. So is exercise. On your walk, leave the earbuds at home and pay attention to the beauty around you. Also pay attention to your own bodily sensations—to your breath, to the way you feel as you take each step. Look at the wonders of nature—whether you walk in your own neighborhood or venture farther to a hike in a park or other greenspace. Think about the beauty of nature, of your body, of all that surrounds you. As you walk, take time to contemplate the natural connections between you and the world around you.
2. Tidy your personal space. This is not an admonishment to do more or better housecleaning. It’s a reminder that you need a beautiful, sacred space where you can recharge. I enjoy taking time each day to make my bed and arrange throw pillows so that I have a beautiful, comfy spot where I can read, relax, or watch a show. You might want to tidy your bedroom, your office, or a space on the porch. Whatever space you choose, make sure you arrange it in a way that is functional and pleasing. Then keep that space tidy so it will be available whenever you need a few minutes to unwind.
3. Follow nature photographers on Instagram. Social media can be beneficial in many ways. One of my favorite ways to unwind on breaks from work or in the evening after a long day is by looking at beautiful pictures. In fact, I have a special Instagram account that I created specifically for following photographers that take pictures of things I find beautiful.
4. Tour an art museum. Seeing art in person is always better, but you can boost your spirits by taking virtual tours as well. Pick a museum that features work by some of your favorite artists or explore to find new favorites.
5. Take a scenic drive. My grandfather used to love taking a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive through rural Kansas. Recently, my best friend and I have started taking our own weekend drives to scenic places where we each live. Pick a nearby state park or other natural location and map your journey, or search for local scenic drives that you might enjoy that have been mapped out by local travel bloggers.
Beauty feeds the soul. In difficult times, we need to be intentional about exposing ourselves to beauty whether that means creating beautiful spaces in our own homes or paying attention to the beauty around us—in nature and in our neighborhoods. Take some time today to enjoy the beauty in your world.